Subaru Sleeping Platform/Camping Build

Toady we will start a build to of a sleeping platform for the back of the 2017 Subaru Forester. The project design spec is as follow:

Must have enough width to sleep two people
Must accommodate a six foot tall person (me)
Must tri-fold or break into three sections an store in rear area of SUV ( we do not want things flying around in a crash!)
Must be level or have a very slight incline.
Must be economical to build
Must be done in 4 weeks!

Having built a boat I am familiar with something I call a try batten. It is basically a stick that we use as a measuring aid to produce a pattern and check or build against the plans as we build. We will make a pattern using it.
First get a nice straight piece of stable wood like oak. Hey look I have one laying round! That is economical.
Next lay it out in the center of the work area.

As you can see we have about 77 inches to work with. Let’s call it 76 to make life easy.

Next we need to place marks at regular intervals on the batten. Lets shoot for 4 inches and that will give us a nice regular whole number of 19 marks.

Let’s take out batten back outside and start measuring

What we need to do is measure from the edge of the batten to the edge of the interior at very mark. In our case every four inches. After I measure I write the measurement on the batten in sharpie.

So we have the whole length measured and marked. But we also have a design requirement that means it needs to be level as well. So I move the SUV to a flat area in the driveway. Is it flat ?

Close about 1/2 inch off. Good enough we can work with that.

Next I place the batten back in the car on edge this time and place a level on it. Simply raise the batten until it is level and measure the distance from the deck to the bottom of the batten.

In our case it is 8 inches. I write that on the other side of the batten. So the batten is 1 inch wide. 8+1 =9 inches. Will that clear the wheel wells vertically? (this would be the underside of the platform).

Roger that!

Lucky me my neighbor just got a new desk this week and she was throwing out a huge box. Hey I can use that.
I lay out the box on the floor with the batten.

I lay out my batten and start marking up the cardboard

What we need to do now is measure from the edge of the batten at each mark. If it says 23 inches then measure 23 inches and put a small mark

What we are starting to develop is the pattern. One half to be exact!

Notice I placed my batten on the fold of the box.

Next I will simply cut out one half of the patter with a knife. Place you batten underneath so you do not mark the floor. Cut once lightly to go through top layer and then again to cut through.

Now fold your cardboard in half and repeat.

Poof we have a pattern

But will it fit? Drum roll please.

It does!

Ok time to test with some sleeping pads. We will have inflatable pads on top of these but for now this is a good prototype test.

Nice . Now we need to adjust and trim.

I notice we can add some width up top.

I notice we can add some width up top.

We also need to trim some.

Well that is it for today as it is starting to rain.

What did we accomplish? Well we have a great pattern to work off of as we move to the next phase which will be laying out the vertical part of the build. Yes we will use our batten technology to tackle the problem as well. Stay tuned!


Week 8 Open Make Starts

This week we dove into what is called an open make or a pick a project that you are interested in and dive in phase. I am actually quite surprised that it took us this long to reach this part of the curriculum. We all reflected a while back during conversations on the discussion forum, about the challenges we all face when balancing pre-load verses free exploration in class. One school of thought which is reflected in much of the Maker movement readings, is to allow for a more free form unscripted exploration of problems, projects, and materials that maybe interesting to the student. The thinking here is that this will result in the student exploring something that they are interested and in and possibly passionate about. Hard to argue with allowing students to work on interesting things.

Other teachers will counter that some subjects are best understood, once a background or base level of knowledge as been presented and understood. The next step in that process would be application of that knowledge. This aligns well with Bloom’s taxonomy which is of course the area of focus that this website targets.

I do have a bias towards Bloom’s model but I also appreciate the power of passionate exploration. So why did we spend 7 weeks exploring small makes of pre-determined topics before we arrived at an open make? Good question. I suspect my professor will of course add some insights via comments to this post. I can only theorize that she wanted to give us the broadest exposure possible to the material and provide grounding in the basics before turning us loose.

As an instructor I struggle with the small dilemma when balancing pre-load vs free exploration. I have found that Agile’s iterative practices that are found in Scrum for example help. Basically break your material down into small chunks, understand what learning outcomes should be measure, adjust and repeat as needed until you have achieved the learning objectives.

In my mind at least key is mixing the presentation of background materials mixed with Project Based Learning in small chunks. The ratio and timing is dependent upon the level of expertise and maturity of the students. For example I will readily throw my Grad students into big challenging social innovation challenges, like reducing plastic waste in the ocean. That is a big tough overwhelming problem for sure and a tremendous opportunity to use Design-Thinking in a way that is not prescribed or formulaic. I would hesitate to present that same challenge to an Undergrad class. Maybe I am too cautious?

Back to the week at hand.

I explored turning my 2017 Subaru Forester into a mini camper. Basically I have key assumptions that I need to test this week. Can it be done? Who has done it? Will I fit? (I am 6ft tall). Can I do low fidelity prototyping to answer the last question? Finally what will it cost?

My challenge this week was time and weather.

Hopefully it will stop raining and I can spend some quality time Sunday measuring and prototyping.

I am actually pretty excited to build this project. I have been thinking about it for a while and the class gave me an excuse ( permission) to tackle it. It seems pretty basic a project to build the sleeping platform.The fun and challenge will be in creatively jamming a weeks worth of gear, food and assorted things into such a small space. The only way to explore that is to start building. I built my boat the same way. I started with plans and “enhanced” the design to fit my needs as I built.

We are hoping to do a big road trip out to Utah next summer, camping and MTN bike along the way. This would really help to make that a reality.

From my research I have discovered that a lot of climbers, kayakers, and surfers will camp this way. The term they use is “dirtbag camping” Sounds like fun to me.

Stay tuned.

Week 7 CNC and Cutters

This week our assignment was to visit a facility that had a laser cutter or vinyl cutter and bring a file with us.
I found this cool SUP graphic on the web and thought that it will make a great car decal.

I made arrangements to cut it out down in the media basement at Hampshire but one thing lead to another and before I knew it I had to reschedule. We will cut it out Monday afternoon and I will of course share a video of the facility and process. It has been redesigned down there and I can’t wait to see what new toys they have. Stay tuned

Motors and a wrap with Arduino

This week we dove into motors. The schematic for my kit called for a slightly different transistor that the one provided. If your a techie basically the emitter and collector were swapped. Flip the transition around back wards and poof it works. I will confess to lots of troubleshooting thinking that I had wired things wrong.

What did I learn? Back to basic troubleshooting – eliminate the variables. BTW works that way with real life problems as well.

This is a code sketch that makes the motor accelerate to max speed and then back down again

We wrap up week 5

Well what did we learn this week besides that fact that those electronic parts contained in the Arduino kit are tiny!. Yes magnifying glass is in order when reading color codes on resistors.

Well we examined what makes a good project. It turns out that good learning projects are those that contain just enough information to get students interested and engaged. They should be real world if possible and challenging. Students do better if they are doing something instead of learning about things. That part is tricky for educators. There needs to be balance. There also is evidence of learning that may take instructors a minute to uncover.

Yes this all fits nicely with the theme of this entire website. Bloom taxonomy is my friend.

More Circuits

More Arduino fun

Temperature sensor. Notice how the reading changes as a place my finger on the sensor to heat it up

A photo resistor controlling LED brightness. The photo resistor varies its resistive value based on light received. I have a motion detector security light that went bonkers. We can hack that next to see of it is the sensor thats broken.

Controlling LED with push button switches.

An array of LEDs blinking in sequence

Multi color LED. It is hard to see because LED’s are super bright and the iPhone can’t capture them well.

Week 4

Well we have hacked cardboard, mashed up toys and now we dive into circuits and Arduino’s. What have we learned?

There are lots of raw materials that we can re-purpose to create things

Don’t be afraid to try and figure out how to create a solution to a problem. Heading to the big box to buy another thing is not always the answer.

Switches rule the world. Seriously it all comes down to binary. When your coding an Arduino it may seem like your talking to that little processor at a primitive level , but your not. You are using an interface. That code gets complied into assembly language and the machine can then extract the binary instructions.

Yes its either a 1 or a 0 . On or off- it will rule the world. Have your doubts? As Siri.

She is after all just an interface to a binary brain

Bob C


Here we have two circuits built on the popular Arduino processor.

The first code blinks an LED. Yes high tech cutting edge!

The second one adds a potentiometer, which is a fancy name for a variable resistor bridge.

I hope that I can use the Arduino to perhaps built a home security/control system. But that is a ways off.


On to Circuits we go this week. Here is a TinkerCad circuit that has a motor and a control. The LED lights up when your at max power.

Here is a photo cell controlling and LED